Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wow! What A comeback For Stefan!

Back in January when Stefan had his surgery we were not too hopeful. He really looked like he was dead. Now he's growing again, looking very healthy, if a bit strange.

Son of Stefan is looking pretty great too although he is not quite as green and gorgeous as Dad. A second cutting now lives with Amy. The remaining two have been stuck in the top of an aged compost pile. Ed just didn't have the heart to toss them just yet.

We started the day outside in the garden. Ed was working on the shade garden. I harvested the spinach and pulled a few weeds before the rain started again. Now we are inside watching the birds look for lunch in the garden. The bluebirds love a short lawn and a rainy day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm Just Not Waiting Any Longer

I've been watching the Oregon Giants like a hawk. I know they could be more filled out. I waited until this afternoon to pick them so they had a little extra time to grow. Keeping the peas picked encourages the plants to continue to blossom. I do believe that keeping plants from producing seed lengthens their bloom cycle. Even if I didn't, this time it wouldn't have changed anything. Tofu with snow peas, ginger and toasted almonds is one of the fantastic summer meals meals we dream about when the snow covers the garden. Tonight's the night. We will have this particular meal lots of times in the next few weeks and we will always enjoy it, but after months waiting tonight will be sheer bliss.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blasted Baby Bunnies!

Take a look at my carefully caged tomato plant. If you do not recognize a tomato plant stripped of its leaves, the branched stalk in the foreground is the tomato plant. I used to like baby bunnies. They are so soft,so furry, so adorable ,so cute. Let me tell you cute wears off! My poor tomato plants have had a tough year as it is with frosts, rain with no sun, and now baby bunnies. The evidence is irrefutable. Baby bunny berries don't lie. Plus I have seen the bunnies shoot through the wire cages like they did not exist. Never thought a 2in. by 4in. hole would be no barrier for rabbits.

Those blasted baby bunnies are stripping leaves from my scented geraniums to make their little nests which makes them even less cute . Most rabbits settle for nests made from grass, but not these little bunnies. Rose and peppermint scented leaves seem to be necessary to make them happy.

Time is on my side I guess. Soon these baby bunnies will be too big to fit through the cage wire, but I can see myself now waiting in line at the farmers' market to buy a decent tomato.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Double Or Nothing

Today we have poppies in bloom.This is a beautiful poppy. The color is nice and I like the purple.Bees would love to roll in this blossom. It's for that reason that this plant has to be pulled. If I want my double poppies to survive, the singles must be removed as soon as possible. This one is already gone. I did bring the flower inside, singe the stem, and put it in water so I can enjoy it for awhile. The bees have to work a bit harder, but it's the pink double poppies that I really love.

Happiness is a garden with lots of double pink poppies. These two are just the beginning.

Finally we have had some sun. Last night we opened the windows and enjoyed the aroma of the evening scented stock planted just outside. A large 3 to 4 inch moth flew against the screen. I wonder what kind he was but the encounter was brief and identification impossible. We went to sleep looking at stars and fireflies.

Ed opened the windows again this morning while it was still cool. I heard the snort of an annoyed deer and watched a neighbor's cat retreat down the driveway. The doe and her fawn were just visible through the trees.

The shade garden was the perfect place for Ed to work on this summer day. Later when it cools off something different will be fun. I'll be looking for weeds to pull and yes, more single poppies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remember Sushni ?

The sushini seems to have adjusted to its spot in the shade garden. Perhaps it likes the rain we have been having. It's other name is European water clover. I rather like the four leaf clovers so I hope it survives here. It has already been frosted once. Like the bacopa this plant is supposed to improve memory. I shall have to remember to water it also.

I'll get my chance since we have actually had a couple of days with blue skies and sun. We have been kept busy. Ed is mowing the meadow we like to think of as our herbal lawn before we have to get a hay baler in here. It's good he likes to do it because it really helps to keep the woodchucks at bay.

I've begun to dry herbs for tea and catnip for mice. We have salad greens galore. The first snow pea is on the vine along with many blossoms. Strawberries from the garden make for a great breakfast. The basil is ready to be cut back to encourage new growth.

Not everything is doing great. Small rabbits have made short work of our broccoli plants. Not prone to give up easily, Ed found some plants to replace them. Gardens are great, but not always easy or without disappointment. Pleasure and pain come together, but those strawberries...Mmm!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Almost As Good As New

The stone patio is back. All that remains now is to fill the spaces between the stones with planting soil, and replant . Small red creeping thyme plants are waiting in pots. They were saved from the plants that had to be removed. Things will have to dry off a bit before the soil is dry enough to work with. Ed plans to do some kind of edging between the patio and the lawn to prevent or at least retard another encroachment.

The rain that made working in the garden beds, and mowing the grass impossible made resetting the patio stones much easier. Very wet sand responds almost like mortar. It makes setting the stones a messy, but much easier job. This project moved to the top of the to do list for that reason. Ed's garden work always impresses me, but sometimes he blows me away. This patio was such a mess. I never would have believed that he could finish this job in such a short time. Wow!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Snake Skin

This snake skin, woven into the top of the stone wall leading into the basement, is a not so subtle reminder that snakes love a dry stone wall. The possibility of meeting a snake at eye level when leaving the basement is a bit nerve wracking. I don't speak parseltongue, but the shriek that comes out involuntarily seems to be understood.The snakes and I head in opposite directions. I love Ed's walls. Snakes are good for the garden. I'm working on a mental adjustment.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Past Thyme To Weed The Patio

When Ed heads out to the garden in the morning, I'm never exactly sure what I will find him doing when I get out there. With all the rain we have been getting, the ground is very wet, too wet to work in the beds. He decided today was the day to "weed" this stone patio. I checked and this stone patio was laid just about fifteen years ago. Once the red creeping thyme was established, it looked fantastic for at least ten. Small weeds were pulled as soon as they appeared.

Eventually the thyme completely covered the stones. Somewhere along the line the sheep sorrel and meadow grasses crept in from the edges both between and under the stones. This kind of weeding is really hard work. The stones are being lifted and the weeds removed. When all that is finished, the stones will be reset and red creeping thyme will be planted again.

This is the stone patio on the west end of the house. It has the stones - with - thyme - planted - between - them look that we are trying to recapture. The hard work that Ed is doing is a not so subtle reminder for me keep this patio weeded while the weeds are still small.

Red creeping thyme flowing like water from between the stones is a sight to behold. It's certainly worth doing a little weeding!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catch Fly And Rain

This picture of catch fly was taken yesterday. I got my first catch fly from Mary Jo. Anything that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds attracts me. This interesting plant gets its name from the sticky sections on the stems that trap small insects.They are the brown areas about 1/4 inch long in the picture. The plants self seed every year. The hummingbird loves these bright pink flowers.

It's been raining all day. We've enjoyed watching rain falling on the garden from the comfort of the living room. Ed has the last of the plants in, and is looking forward to getting back to the shade garden wall. I still have a few more seeds to plant, and plenty of weeds to pull. A walk through the garden reveals strawberries, spinach,radishes, mesclun, lettuce and fresh herbs are ready for picking. The catnip drying has begun. I'm beginning to dry herbs for tea. New flowers are blooming every day. It's a glorious time for the garden!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who's Garden Is This Anyway?

Here, deer in the garden is a fact of life. Ed's systems of portable cages works well for the plants we know the deer find irresistible.We always cage some things. Never, but never have I seen the deer eat Black-eyed Susans, but pictures don't lie. Well at least mine don't.

According to plan no more asparagus was going to be eaten here this year. The deer disagree with me on that as well. Again in my experience, the deer have left the asparagus alone.

We often think that an orphan fawn is prone to eat unusual things since Mom is not around to see he eats properly. It's more comforting to think that way than it is to think that the entire herd has changed its eating habits.

This year we will see how the skyscraper hollyhock does having been cut back very hard. This cage went on after the damage was done, but it's not like the horse being stolen. I'm sure some of the deer will be back, probably tonight.

We watched the movie "Cross Creek" just this week. "The Yearling" was never one of my favorite books. I used to be completely on the side with the young girl. Now I see see things from a different perspective.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garden Scents

The garden is full of amazing scents now. Herbs are especially nice about releasing a wonderful aroma when touched. Thyme , basil, rosemary , lemon verbena, savory, sage , mints, Valerian,catnip are all are a treat to work around. Today it is these Sweet Pinks, Dianthus x hybida, 'Rainbow Lovliness', that releases its sweet fragrance to the wind and captures your attention. It's a sweet spicy smell similar to carnations. The frilly flowers are so delicate and beautiful that they could get by on just the way they look, but they don't have to. This is our second year with these flowers. They were started from seed. This plant actually takes my breath away!

Fantastic Fragrance With A Bite

Right now a walk to the back garden is enhanced by the fragrance of pasture roses on the wind. The small white flowers have a strong rose scent. Most farmers consider this plant a pest. The bushes grow large and multiply. Getting caught on the sharp curved thorns is a painful experience. Pulling away only increases the pain. You have to push into the bush to release yourself from the thorns to escape with a minimum of damage. This is one plant that won't find a place in the garden. A walk on the wild side is needed to experience the fragrant roses. We just walk downwind and try to avoid the thorns!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Potatoes With Dirt And Molasses

It was just two weeks ago today that Ed covered our newly emerging potato plants with dirt. It was with some trepidation that he did that. We had read that potatoes could be saved from a late frost by burying them. Whether it was the urgency to reach daylight again, the warmer weather,or the rain, the potatoes have been growing like crazy. Now they have been hilled for the second time, and given their second dose of molasses. Ed did see a disgusting potato bug that escaped his grasp, but on the whole the potatoes look terrific. Now we wait for our buried treasure to grow. These days the return has to be better than putting money in the bank.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pulling Poppies

One of the really great benefits of Ed's beautifully prepared planting beds is that plants can easily self seed. My favorite double pink poppies are the champion when it comes to reseeding. We have been getting some rain and the poppies have been growing. Today I spent a lot of time in the garden pulling out poppies, buckets of poppies. Now is the time I wonder why I let so many plants self seed. I do it because I don't wish to lose these plants.Later when the flowers bloom, I will be glad I did. The Stone Wall Garden would not be the same without these pink poppies. Too many is better than too few. Of course there are still more poppies to pull!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bacopa monnerri

The Bacopa monneri, also called Coastal Water Hyssop, is planted. This is one of Amy's Ayurvedic herbs. It is supposed to increase mental clarity. The plants are still small so I have not yet sampled them. I hope they give me enough mental clarity to remember to keep them watered. They like it wet. Having survived a frost, perhaps they will do well and spread. Mental clarity is always in short supply!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Over Until Next Spring!

Ed weeded and top dressed the asparagus bed. We won't be cutting it again this year. Time for the plants to grow into their feathery ferns, and feed the roots. We have reveled in the fresh asparagus. Cut and washed just minutes before it is cooked, asparagus is a whole new taste experience. Next spring we will welcome it's return.

We have been getting rain and the garden is responding with lush growth. We are in the salad days now and await the peas and strawberries with anticipation. Our garden is starting to pay those big dividends. It will be arugula and nectarine salad for lunch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And The Winner Is... A.albopilosum

Today, I wandered in the garden with the camera taking pictures, looking for the most beautiful plant in bloom today. It was an impossible choice to make, but once inside looking at my pictures,this Allium albopilosium was the obvious winner. The fact is I might be a bit biased. I adore this plant. I got my first bulbs at New York Botanic Gardens before we moved here. They were among first plants transplanted in this garden . My original five bulbs have increased to six, and I have had them for more than a decade.

This year for the first time I saw them in a catalog. I just had to buy some more. When the flowers are past, I always cut them, and add red, white, and blue ribbons for a fourth of July flower arrangement that lasts until August.

This picture was taken June 4. That was just 3 days after our last frost. All of the A. albopilosum plants were unscathed. I can't say the same for the Beau Regard alliums. What should have been a nice big purple ball instead resembles a man losing his hair. The frost had obviously had a big impact on it. I got two of these rather expensive bulbs. I cut off the flower stalks hoping to save the bulbs, but from the smell I can almost guarantee one of them is already dead. We will see if the other Beau Regard makes an appearance next spring. I won't be buying any more of those until I see what happens. I may be a little crazy about plants sometimes, but I'm not stupid!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just Among Friends

I wish I had taken a picture of these poppies and iris last evening before the rain. The evening light intensified the orange in both the iris and the poppies. The large apricot iris given to me by my former neighbor, Liz, are gorgeous, but large blooms and a lot of rain often leads to broken stems. A broken stem shows at the bottom of the picture. Now an apricot iris graces my dining room table. I would never have cut it if it had not been broken by the rain.

The orange oriental poppies were a gift from Thelma H, a friend of my mother's. When the first poppy blooms, I admire it's beauty, and think of Thelma and her beloved garden.

Most of our purchased plants have found their home in the garden, but plant swapping with friends and visitors will continue all summer.The small pink evening scented stock have started to bloom. Few visitors to the garden leave without one of these aromatic beauties in a pot. It's no wonder. Except for when the nearby farm spreads liquid manure, the garden will now smell fantastic in the evening for the rest of the summer. This plant is irresistible!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fun With Flowers

I left Ed home to continue moving plants into the garden while Amy and I headed to Saratoga. Those mineral spring baths still do their magic. We had a wonderful relaxing time. We found this ceramic doughnut in one of the shops. When filled with water , short stemmed flowers can be floated on the surface.

Soon after we arrived home, Amy walked in the garden choosing flowers to arrange. Hawkweed, a common weed here, supplied the bright yellow disc flower. It is truly a gift to see the beauty in weeds. The arrangement went along home with Amy. I hope she has more a lot fun with it. Our two days in Saratoga were wonderful, but it's great to be home!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mixed Up Mesclun

I cut some mesclun for salad for dinner. There's nothing like those young leaves, freshly picked and organically grown. We don't grow in a greenhouse or under row cover so the little holes in the arugula leaves go with the territory. We prefer insect perforated leaves to using chemicals. I do pay attention when I'm washing these baby greens.The poppies that self seed here look right at home, but I'm not about to eat those leaves. Would they hurt me? Perhaps, but who wants to find out? I love exotic salads, but I stick to things I'm sure are safe and tasty. Anything I don't recognize for sure, or I don't know to be edible, goes in the compost.

The garden is heating up in more ways than one. Ed is working hard to get the plants into their spots in the garden. The grass needs mowing. It's time to start drying herbs. It's ironic that when there is so very much to write about on a garden blog , there is so much less time to do it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Upper Garden

Scott Nearing wrote of having two gardens in Vermont. He found the upper garden less likely to be damaged by late frost. We find that frost does indeed roll downhill. Here is the start of our upper garden. 90 square feet are planted with squash and potatoes. The glaciers left actual soil here. Stones are few and the yellow subsoil is deep. This is a real change from our main garden where stones are abundant and the useable soil is thin.

Squash borers were the driving force for this new garden. Every year these pests destroy our crop. This year we will try a remote location and see if we can hide our squash from the vine borer moth. If that fails, widely spaced garlic can be fall planted here. Several square miles of wilderness start here so there is some concern about critter damage. Raccoons could climb the fence but it is not known if they relish squash or potatoes. Woodchucks will have a clear shot at digging under the fence. Perhaps I will get a clear shot at them. The treasure of thick soil guarantees that this garden will be larger next year.

One might wonder why this field is mowed when it is so far from the house. An old camping trailer was placed nearby when we first acquired this land. This spot is my favorite and I frequently walk here. Evening campfires sometimes happen here as the full moon approaches. Tonight might just see moonrise by firelight.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Frosted In June !

Frost in June is not the best of news for a gardener. Still it could have been much worse. We have been reading freeze warnings for days. The clouds that you can see in the picture definitely lessened the cold. The frost is light and spotty. Up next to the house and inside the stone square seemed to have escaped if just barely.

Between the clove currants and the stone wall also seems to have been spared. Our garden was placed on a south facing gentle slope. We failed to see the path the cold takes as it pours downhill. It seems to roll down through the notch in the hill, across the garden, and down the small ravine to the right. Behind the house and down to the river also seems to have escaped the frost.

This bee balm is in the unwalled part of the garden. It is clearly placed in the river of cold that flows here. It's frosted!

Ed's out on dawn patrol washing the frost off some of the more delicate plants with a watering can. By 7:00 AM the frost was gone. The annuals are still in safe in the basement. They will be carried outside when it warms up. The forecast looks better, perhaps we will screw up our courage and plant them in the garden hanging on to the belief that this really was our last frost.